Jack Kornfield once wrote: “If your compassion does not include yourself it is incomplete.”
If I’m not paying close attention, it is very easy for me to become so overcommitted and entangled in the holiday frenzy that I’m burned out and Bah Humbugged W-a-a-a-Y before mid-December. All the decorating, tree trimming, gift buying, card mailing, cookie baking, party prepping, etc, etc, can make me anxious, panicked and stressed. It’s then I realize that I need to stop everything and practice some “Self-Compassion” in order to restore, well, Order, to my life and to replenish, fortify and renew my mind and spirit.
So for all those times when we need to increase our resilience and operate more effectively, here are some “ME-tips” to help us synchronize more effectively with the Flow, Wisdom and Guidance of our Source…
Set a daily time for a favorite spiritual practice, even if only for 10 minutes. Meditate; walk in nature; breathe slowly and deeply; color a picture; doodle a drawing; jog around the block; do a few focused yoga stretches or poses; mindfully enjoy that cup of coffee or shower or tidbit of humor. AND, do it all guilt-free and with total abandon, knowing that you are totally and completely deserving.
Write a kind and appreciative note to yourself for your efforts and wonderful qualities; develop and repeat a simple mantra that will help get you through the challenges…” May I be kind to myself in this moment; may I give myself the compassion that I need.” Or maybe something like…“I rise above the challenges of my day because I move in sync with an Infinite Power.” Take a moment to remind yourself of your value, your worth and your ability to tap into a strength and resilience beyond your physical nature.
In addition to a mantra, try gently placing your hand on your cheek or your heart as you whisper a message of self-care or kindness. Or envision being bathed in or embraced by warm, radiant light. If it feels difficult to offer yourself compassion, bring to mind a loving being: a spiritual figure, family member, friend or pet, and imagine that being’s love, compassion and wisdom flowing into you.
When struggling, find a connection with others. Recall that we are not alone in whatever the challenge may be. There are others who previously have, or who are currently experiencing similar challenges. Reach out for support. Teaming up can lead to newfound solutions, a diminishing of the labors involved, and ultimately greater relief and resilience. Even though our Western culture may praise stoic individualism, we don’t have to buy into it or go it alone.
If you are one of those people who view self-compassion as a selfish indulgence, please recall that embracing ourselves with warmth and tenderness is also vital to our ability to extend kindness to others. Forgiving ourselves for perceived mistakes, poor choices or human limitations is a necessary lesson in learning to forgive another. Unless we can replenish our own personal spiritual “gas tank,” we cannot continue to nurture or nourish others from our empty tank.
In conclusion, may we all find those special simple ways to love, feed and empower ourselves throughout this holiday season, and always.